Tales from the Trail

Does Obama’s healthcare victory point to future legislative strategy?

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When President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law today, was he also endorsing the preferred White House strategy for legislation to come?

After months of political wrangling and face-reddening rhetoric all around, Obama’s sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system became reality without a single Republican voting for it.

Democrats say that’s because the Republicans want to render Obama’s presidency a failure. They point to a recently published account of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategic game plan to deny Democrats any support on big legislation.

Meanwhile, Obama has seized upon the virtue of being ever-ready and ever-willing to cooperate with the reliably uncooperative. In doing so, he has effectively used GOP stubbornness as a foil. And there’s been evidence that the ploy has political merit.

Now the president has triumphed. Does this mean the White House will pursue its remaining legislative agenda in partisan fashion while making the immovable Republicans look like the bad guys? USA-HEALTHCARE/

Armey says “unreliable” Republicans are Tea Partiers’ only hope

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Dick Armey says the Tea Party movement is willing to back Republicans for office, but only if they agree to reform their sinful ways when it comes to fiscal dangers like the budget deficit and the federal debt.

In fact, he predicts that Tea Partiers and their conservative allies will be around for a long time to make sure Republicans who get into office avoid the perils of backsliding on the road to fiscal purity.

“If we’ve got any hope at all, we must put it, as unreliable as they are, with the Republicans and try to rehabilitate them, reform them … and manage their behavior,” the former House Republican majority leader told a National Press Club luncheon.

Company dispenses with lobbyists and launches bid for Congressional seat

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Murray Hill is running for Congress to rid Washington of lobbyists and weak-kneed politicians once and for all. And there may be no better candidate, for Murray Hill is not a frail human being but a company.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves,” the public relations firm from Silver Spring, Maryland, says in a statement.

It’s referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has drawn a torrent of criticism from officials including President Barack Obama by treating corporations as human beings when it comes to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. Critics claim the decision will unleash a new flood of corporate money into U.S. election campaigns, including money from foreign companies.

Obama seeks to cast healthcare vote as test of courage

Do they have what it takes?

In a new twist, President Barack Obama is trying to turn the tough politics involved in the healthcare reform push into an argument for passing his top domestic priority. OBAMA/

Obama is telling fellow Democrats that supporting legislation to overhaul the $2.5 trillion healthcare system, despite its lack of popularity, would be a mark of courage.

At a pair of fundraisers in St. Louis for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Obama said voters sent their politicians to Washington to make hard choices and that passing healthcare was the right thing to do.

Republican wants more Massa exposure but Democrat says it’s over

House Republican Eric Cantor thinks Congress should get to the bottom of Eric Massa’s bizarre tale of congressional nudity, satanic White House advisers, the groping of men (or not) and a congressional healthcare putsch by Democrats. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the case is over. 
 

“I know that Steny joins me in hoping that the ethics committee in Congress looks into this adequately and can get to the bottom of all of this,” said Cantor, who appeared along with Hoyer on NBC’s Today show. ”The best place for this to be resolved is in the ethics committee and let’s get to the bottom of it.”

Otherwise, the whole thing seems to make Cantor want to hold his nose. And he is not alone. “I’m a little taken aback and stunned,” the Virginia lawmaker confided. “I don’t know the facts of this at all. I know that the American people are sickened.”

Honored, humbled and a bit embarrassed, first lady consigns her gown to history

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Michelle Obama acknowledged having mixed feelings Tuesday as she consigned her 2009 Inaugural Ball gown to posterity and a glass case at the Smithsonian.

“So, here we are. It’s the dress,” she laughed at a ceremony in the National Museum of American History to mark the addition of her one-shouldered, floor-length, white silk chiffon gown to a permanent exhibit on first ladies.

She was joined by the gown’s 26-year-old Taiwan-born designer, Jason Wu.

“To be honest, I am very honored and very humbled, but I have to say that I’m also a little embarrassed by all the fuss,” she added. “Like many of you, I’m not used to people wanting to put things I’ve worn on display.”

Democrat gets naked with Rahm Emanuel, labels him “son of devil’s spawn”

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Eric Massa knows all about awkward. The House Democrat, who leaves Congress today over a sexual harassment complaint by a male staffer, says he’s been up-close, personal and naked with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel — all at the same time.

Emanuel, Massa has decided, is a blood relative of Satan.

“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn. He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive,” Massa says in a recording from his radio show posted to the RealClearPolitics Web site.

Massa’s close encounter with Emanuel occurred in the showers of a congressional gym about eight weeks after he entered Congress in January 2009.

Karl Rove says families should be off limits in politics

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Karl Rove thinks the families of public figures should be off limits from the nasty, maligning, ad hominem attacks of election politics.

On an NBC Today show appearance to promote his new book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight”, Rove was asked about reports that his adoptive father, Louis, was gay.

Some critics have gone so far as to speculate that a gay father might help explain his parents’ divorce, his mother’s suicide and even his opposition to gay marriage. But Rove wants to “set the record straight” in the book, which is due for release on Tuesday.

Obama bests Republicans on healthcare reform in public confidence poll

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Barack Obama appears to be winning the popularity contest over healthcare reform that’s been playing out in public since his White House summit on Feb. 25.

A new Gallup poll suggests that 49 percent of Americans have confidence in Obama to make the right recommendations.

That’s not a majority. But it’s way higher than the 32 percent who think Republicans in Congress would do the right thing.
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The findings appear to contradict Republican claims that the public favors their decentralized, piecemeal approach over Obama’s comprehensive reform plan.

Palin shops reality show as RNC fear campaign stalks Obama

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Sarah Palin may be about to add another high-profile credential to her resume by taking TV viewers moose hunting in Alaska.

She can already boast about being a mayor, a governor, a vice presidential nominee, a bestselling author — she’s also writing a new book about American virtues and strengths — a TV political pundit and a Big Name campaigner for candidates in the 2010 congressional elections.

Now she wants to be a reality show TV star, too.

One of the most visible Republican figures on the White House wannabe stage, Palin is teaming up with TV producer Mark Burnett to shop a proposal for a reality show based on her family and their life in picturesque Alaska to at least three major broadcast networks.